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What you need to know about STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections)

A healthy sex life isn't just about having a lot of really great sex (don't get us wrong, it's a big part of it), it also means we need to talk more about STIs. The more people using condoms with casual partners, testing regularly, and being treated for STIs, the less we'll see new STI diagnoses among our community of gay and bi guys.

Everyone is at risk of all STIs but the current advice below is specific to staying safe for cis guys who have sex with guys – we are looking to create more inclusive resources with specific advice for our trans and gender diverse whānau.

Finding out you have an STI is nothing to be ashamed of and, in most cases, it's nothing to fear - what is concerning, is the soaring rate of STIs in our community. 

As gay and bi guys tend to have a closer-knit sexual network and are a relatively small community within wider NZ, STIs can move quite quickly through these networks.

There are many types of STI and they can be viral, bacterial, fungal or parasitic infections. Different STIs are transmitted in different ways and, unlike HIV, they can often be transmitted via oral sex, saliva and condomless anal sex with partners who have an undetectable viral load or are on PrEP.

Some common STIs:

Prevention

Unlike with HIV, there aren't always clear cut prevention methods for all STIs. What we do know, is that condoms help prevent a lot of STIs. Being equipped with condoms, lube, regular STI testing and the knowledge on this page you should be ready to navigate your sexual encounters more safely. 

Remember though, that there is no shame in contracting an STI. What's important is that you get tested regularly so you can pick up anything you may have and get it treated (or get the right medical advice for STIs without treatments) quickly. 

One of the leading causes of STIs spreading is the fear of getting tested - which means they can be transmitted without people ever knowing they had them.

Symptoms

Symptoms can be misleading or often not exist at all when it comes to certain STIs, this is why we can't stress enough that getting tested regularly is the best way to keep track of and treat any STIs. 

If you're testing with us - remember that if you are already displaying STI symptoms, we won't be able to test you and will refer you on to Sexual Health Services or your regular clinic to be tested and connected to treatment. 

You can find your closest Sexual Health Clinic with this helpful tool on Just The Facts

Testing

The Ending HIV team offer rapid HIV and syphilis testing in our three centres across Aotearoa - click here to find your closest testing place. Please remember that if you are already displaying STI symptoms, we won't be able to test you and must refer on to Sexual Health Services or your regular clinic to be tested and connected to treatment.

Sexual Health Services offer full STI screening services and can connect you to treatment immediately.

You can also request STI screenings with your personal GP.

If you get an STI, your partners want to know.

If you get diagnosed with an STI, you need to tell everyone from the last 3 months. 

Telling someone that you’ve got an STI isn’t as hard as you think. Because they actually want to know. It’s true. They'll be grateful that you’re telling them because it means they can get checked out too. Besides, they can’t get mad when they could be the one who gave it to you.

Be specific, yes, that specific. 

When you tell someone which STI they should get checked for, make sure you give the full name of the STI. And where on the body you have it. Otherwise the person might get tested for oral chlamydia, when they should really get tested for rectal chlamydia.

Helpful Links

  • JustTheFacts.co.nz has pretty much everything you need to know about STIs and it's all presented in a non-judgmental format that aims to reduce STI stigma
  • The Ministry of Health has information on New Zealand's leading STIs and official treatment and prevention statements for the health system
  • Our friends over at the New Zealand AIDS Foundation have info on various STIs
  • The New Zealand Sexual Health Society has a comprehensive list of the sexual health clinics around the country
  • Tell Me Tool - Don't know how to tell a previous partner that you have an STI? We'll write the message for you. 
PEP

The NZAF network

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